Data governance at the foundation of Artificial Intelligence

(Above pic L-R: Alecia Heng, Chris Par, Dr. Karl, Dato’ Ng Wan Peng, Aaron Tan Dani)

IASA and MDEC’s Enterprise Architecture and Artificial Intelligence Conference 2019 commenced last week, at the ASEAN Data Analytics Exchange (ADAX) located in Bangsar South.

During her presentation, MDEC COO, Dato’ Ng Wan Peng, emphasised the importance of data and the role that data plays in enabling artificial intelligence when combined with smarter algorithms and computing power.

There is awareness that for data to yield real value, data sharing has to happen.

She said, “You need to govern data but what’s the best way?

“Policy is important so that we can use data in the most effective manner, and in a way that does not infringe your rights,” she pointed out.

In fact IASA President, Chris Par, had said during his opening speech that the foundation for AI (implementation) boils down to how well managed two things are – data and data architecture.

Dr. Siti Istianah

When MAMPU, the government sector’s CIO, came to stage, Head of its Enterprise Architecture division, Dr Siti Istianah shared that MAMPU recognises the role of a Chief Data Officer, whereby one of the functions he or she would have, is overseeing the governance of data from 18 different sectors that the government provides services to.

“Would you like to take it up?” she had challenged, knowing full well that it is a gargantuan task with enormous responsbilities that would make anyone think more than twice, before committing to it.

Data, data, and more data

It seemed serendipitous that the event’s venue was ADAX, a data technology hub for AI and big data analytics (BDA). One of ADAX’s vision is to drive and develop a critical mass of data professional talent and competencies.

According to MDEC, MDEC has facilitated the development of nearly 11,000 data professionals, and they aim to have this figure reach 15,000 by end of this year.

This is done by collaborating with institutes of higher learning on a two-prong strategy; to offer data science as postgraduate programmes and undergraduate degrees, as well as also offer data science modules in non-ICT degree courses.

Architects and data

Dr Siti Istianah shared that in 2014, a leading public cloud provider was offering a monthly salary of around RM36,000 to solution architects.

That is how much in demand, that particular skill is.

MAMPU recognises the role that enterprise architecture (EA) has for transforming the government, and had adopted enterprise architecture back in 2014. It also rolled out the MyGovEA programme to help transformation towards a digital government.

Dr. Siti said, “Now, we also advise government agencies to look at their business processes and services so that they are inclusive enough of all aspects of the value chain, be it in the government or in other sectors.

The whole public sector ecosystem, conducts transactions with local industries, but transactions with other countries, come into play as well. This is the case for the digital free trade zone, for example.

“What we look into here is the organisational needs of business processes. And the solution architect has to understand these 18 sectors. You need to understand all of the government services (for these sectors).

The 18 sectors which leverages services from the public sector

“And if you look into the data of each of these industries, you would know how huge it is the data management and data governance (tools and considerations), we have to put in place,” Dr. Siti also said.

The role of an EA team as internal consultants

According to MAMPU also, EA has always been used as a management tool to help with planning, governance and also transforming business processes.

But, EA has evolved over the years.

The different enterprise architecture specialisations, like software architecture, business architecture, solutions architecture and so on, have also begun to find relevance being offered holistically by a team, known as the EA team.

“Looking at the EA team’s approach, it is more collaborative which means we look into the processes between all the different agencies.”

A Gartner survey revealed that private and public organisations want someone to advise on how to adopt and implement all the current and emerging technologies.

Alain Boey and Dr. Sekar Jaganathan talk about how to make digital transformation an evolution

“So, the (MAMPU) EA team has also evolved its role to become the internal consultant to the government.

“What we do is advise on how to adopt and adapt these emerging technologies, for example AI,” Dr. Siti said, adding that AI and EA can be implemented in terms of repetitive possible solutions when they advise their stakeholders.

“Currently, we have digital EA, and we have a repository where we collect all the business models and data and applications that support the business/government to be able to analyse and support them when they are planning for the future.”

Emphasising EA at the foundation

Artificial intelligence implementations, besides data governance, has to have architecture in place as well. Otherwise it will become a “garbage data in and garbage out” scenario, which does not benefit the organisation at all.

Aaron Tan Dani, Chairman of IASA Asia Pacific, is a certified enterprise architect himself, and  a huge proponent of the enterprise digital map, referred to a recent 3- day blackout that occurred at an international airport.

He opined, “I believe something huge had happened, that’s why they shut everything down.”

Aaron’s belief is that with the digital enterprise map, which is the outcome of Digital EA, the airport would have visibility of the entire infrastructure and understand the impact analysis or the root cause of the problem.

“Shutting down the entire IT system (causing the blackout) didn’t need to be their only option.”


The moderator and his panellists after one panel discussion session. (L-R) Hasan Ganny from ATD Solution, and IT heads from the airlines (Frederic Ducros), telco (Vijaykumar Dayinde), media (Freddy Loo) and financial services (Dr. Sekar Jaganathan) industries.